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NeuMoDx Molecular scores $21M in Series B round

NeuMoDx Molecular has $21 million more in its coffers now that the Ann Arbor-based startup has secured a Series B round of financing.

The investment round in the diagnostics company was led by Pfizer Ventures. Other local venture capital investors included Baird Capital, Venture Investors, Arboretum Ventures and the Wolverine Venture Fund. The startup, helmed by veteran local CEO Jeff Williams, also secured $5 million in a Series A in 2012.

"It helps to have an experienced CEO," says Erik Gordon, a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy who oversees the student-run Wolverine Venture Fund at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. "We also did a lot of research in the molecular science space."

NeuMoDx Molecular is developing a new platform for high volume, low-cost molecular testing. The company’s patent-pending technology integrates magnetic particle affinity capture and real time polymerase chain reaction chemistry in a multi-sample microfluidic cartridge. That enables NeuMoDx Molecular’s platform to speed up molecular testing, processing about 500 samples every eight hours.

NeuMoDx Molecular is currently going through clinical trials and working to secure regulatory approval, which the new round of funding will make possible.

Source: Erik Gordon, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business
Writer: Jon Zemke

University of Michigan, Virginia profs team up to create PsiKick

Professors from the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia have spun out technology from their respective universities to create a new venture-backed startup, PsiKick.

Startups pulling technologies from a number of different universities isn't unheard of. However, fledgling companies taking technology from premier research institutions doesn’t happen often.

"It might be more rare that it's this equal (the standing of the research universities supplying the technology)," says Mark Maynard, marketing manager for the Office of Technology Transfer at the University of Michigan. He adds that the contribution of each university's technology is "pretty right down the middle."

David Wentzloff and Benton Calhoun met while attending graduate school at MIT. After graduate school they went back to their respective alma maters to start teaching careers. Wentzloff is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at U-M and Calhoun is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UVa.

The friends came together in 2012 to launch PsiKick, which now has offices in Ann Arbor and Virginia. PsiKick is developing an ultra-low-power wireless sensor that is capable of operating on 1/100th to 1/1000th of the power budget of other low-power integrated circuit platforms. That enables the chip to be powered without the help of a battery, instead relying on vibration, thermal gradients, solar, radio frequency or piezo actuation for energy sources.

PsiKick's chip conducted continuous EKG monitoring and detection of atrial fibrillation. Wireless updates each second were sent by radio, all operating continuously and powered by body heat using a small thermoelectric generator on a body with no battery at all in the system. The lack of a battery means the chip can be used in a number of harsh environments.

"The implications could be enormous for several industries," Maynard says.

PsiKick recently closed on a Series A round of funding to help further develop the technology. The investment was led by New Enterprise Associates. Other investors include MINTS, a U-M venture fund, and Osage University Partners.

Source: Mark Maynard, marketing manager for the Office of Tech Transfer at the University of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Avegant raises $1.9M in investment, $1.5M in crowdfunding

Most startups are excited to have seven figures worth of seed capital coming in. Avegant has managed to score two in its first year.

The downtown Ann Arbor-based startup has raised $1.9 million in a Seed Round. It also raised $1.5 million from a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year. And all of these people willing to throw money at the company can’t wait to see its night-vision technology.

"We smashed our (crowdfunding) goal (of $250,000) in a matter of three hours," says Edward Tang, CEO of Avegant.

Avegant co-founders Tang and Allan Evans met at the University of Michigan. They were approached by military contractors about creating better night-vision equipment for military drivers during wartime. Soldiers were experiencing better results using thermal night vision while driving. The problem was the display was in their vehicle’s dash instead of over their eyes.

Tang and Evans found that the computer screen and eye fatigue often downgraded the viewing quality. In response they created a night-vision goggle that projected the image directly on the users eye, providing a big step forward in picture quality.

"It was a higher picture quality that I had ever seen before," Tang says.

Avegant's team of 11 employees and one intern has created three different evolutions of the prototype since landing the $1.9 million in a Seed Round last August. The Michigan Angel Fund, an angel investment group, led that investment round. Tang expects to ship the first commercial units of the night-vision goggles before the end of the year.

"We're considering doing pre-orders on the website," Tang says. "It's going really well."

Source: Edward Tang, CEO of Avegant
Writer: Jon Zemke

Lawrence Tech breaks ground on residence hall at Southfield campus

An $11.6-million residence hall with room for 160 Lawrence Technological University students is expected to be ready for move-in by fall of 2015.

An April 7 groundbreaking marks the start of construction on a 47,545-square-foot, two-story building near the university's largest parking lot along the Northwestern Highway Service Drive.

The dorm will increase on-campus residential capacity by about one-third. Currently there are about 600 students living on campus. As the school's athletic programs and student activities grow, so too does the demand for housing on campus.

The new residence hall will be designed in a pod-style of five pods that sleep 32 students in 16 double-occupancy units. Each pod will have its own common lounge with fireplace and kitchen. All pods will share a cafe and retail space, laundry room, game room, multi-purpose and meeting rooms on the first floor.

“The building is designed to encourage students to be out of their rooms with plenty of space for interaction and collaboration," says LTU President Virinder Moudgil. "One of the goals is to get new students involved in campus life by fostering collegiality."

Source: Eric Pope, spokesperson, Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Walsh College launches online program for aspiring entrepreneurs

Walsh College has always prided itself on being a friend of small business through education, but now its Troy campus is trying to make that help easier to access.

The Walsh Institute is debuting its new Business Launch program, an online guide focused on helping aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their business dreams into reality.

"We took everything we do and centralized it," says Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute. "We put it online and put it out there."

Business Launch can walk budding businesspersons through the steps of growing their ideas and give them access to Walsh College's resources, mentors and faculty. The idea is to streamline the business-creation process so new entrepreneurs go through less of a learning curve.

It costs $195 per idea to use the program, which includes filling out a questionnaire and receiving customized feedback. Users of the program will have access to a variety of business resources, including articles, blogs and case studies featuring small- and family-owned business success stories.

"It just makes more sense," Miceli says. "We want to give the real-time answers to what a business needs at that time."

Source: Tara R Miceli, director of Walsh Institute
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

XanEdu aims to hire 50 in Ann Arbor, invest $1M

XanEdu is consolidating its operations in Michigan and Kentucky into its Ann Arbor facility, a move that is expected to bring another 50 hires in the next five years.

"Ann Arbor is such a great place to live and work," says Dianne Michalek, vice president of marketing for XanEdu. "With the University of Michigan in our backyard we have great access to top talent."

XanEdu got its start as a traditionally publishing company in 1999 making educational materials for schools, such as course packs for colleges. It has expanded into digital realm in recent years, bringing those educational materials to mobvile devices, such as iPads, with an app. It currently employs 30 people in Ann Arbor.

XanEdu, with help from Ann Arbor SPARK, is investing $1 million toward expanding its operations in Ann Arbor. The new hires will be primarily in management, sales and IT positions. Michalek expects the new jobs will be created steadily over the next five years as the company grows.

"We are trying to expand our technology operations into new markets," Michalek says.

Source: Dianne Michalek, vice president of marketing for XanEdu
Writer: Jon Zemke

H3D reinvents nuclear radiation detection technology

Zhong He has been working toward a better way to detect nuclear radiation for most of his academic career.

The University of Michigan professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences first started working on the technology in 1997 and has developed it through the years. Today it has been spun out of the university and is the principal product of H3D. The Ann Arbor-based startup launched almost two years ago after it saw an increased demand for it from government agencies and large corporations.

"We realized the technology is ready for market," says He, CEO of H3D.

H3D's Polaris H technology is a handheld radiation camera that helps nuclear plant operators find potentially dangerous hot spots and leaky fuel rods faster and more precisely. It accomplishes this by laying a gamma-ray map over an image of a room, allowing it to pinpoint radiation sources.

"We have developed a very sensitive technology readout system," He says.

H3D employs a staff of five employees and two independent contractors. It began marketing the product in earnest in early 2013 and has already taken orders for it. The Polaris H radiation camera is currently being used in four nuclear plants.

"We are doing demonstrations to show people how it works," He says. "That way people will know more and more about the technology."

Source: Zhong He, CEO of H3D
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M grad student ends Jeopardy! champion's reign

Brilliant strategist or cold-blooded villian? Whatever your opinion of Jeopardy! champ Arthur Chu, his nearly 3 month reign has come to an end - at the hands of an Ann Arborite. I knew we were smart.
"She won the game that aired Wednesday night, ending an 11-win streak by Chu that earned him $297,200 -- the third-largest haul in the popular show's history."
Read the rest here.

Backyard Brains continues global expansion, adds staff

Backyard Brains has come a long way since its inception in 2010. Back then it was a side project of a couple of neuroscientists looking to sell a few insect neuroscience kits to teach grade-school students how the brain works. Today it is a multi-national corporation selling those kits on three continents.

The Ann Arbor-based company expanded into South America last year focusing on the Chilean education market. It has since cemented its presence there and is now expanding into Africa, making sales in Nigeria, Uganda, Morocco and Ethiopia, among other nations.

"We're now in 60 countries," says Tim Marzullo, co-founder of Backyard Brains. "That's pretty exciting."

Marzullo and Greg Gage launched Backyard Brains with its RoboRoach product. The testing kit enables students to control insects via antennas. Its flagship product is SpiderBox, a bioamplifier that allows users to hear and see spikes of neurons in invertebrates.

Backyard Brains sales of these products have increased an average of 5 percent a month over the last year. Revenue spiked to $70,000 last November (the business’ busy season and when it struck a partnership with Harvard) and reached $40,000 in February, which was still up considerably from a year. International sales, especially in Chile, are helping drive the company's growth.

"It (the Chilean market) is where Backyard Brains was three years ago," Marzullo says. "We're making sales there every month now."

The growth has allowed Backyard Brains to add staff. It has hired three people (an engineer, an accountant and a designer) in the U.S. over the last year, expanding its staff to six full-time employees and six part-timers. It also employs one full-time person and three part-timers in Chile.

Source: Tim Marzullo, co-founder of Backyard Brains
Writer: Jon Zemke

Donation boosts OU's industrial robotics and automation programs

Oakland University will build a four-year industrial robotics and automation program thanks to a donation from a leading supplier of industrial robots.

ABB Robotics' $50,000 gift to OU's School of Engineering and Computer Science will prepare future graduates for work in the industry and companies such as ABB. ABB will also offer an internship to OU students. Three members of the ABB Robotics executive team are OU grads.

One of them, Michael Mahfet, vice president and general manager for ABB, says "We might be a little biased, but we know OU is a highly regarded school in the engineering community. We're pleased to be able to play a part in advising the SECS on their new robotics curriculum. Ultimately, it's good for OU and it's good for companies like ours. The automation industry is changing so fast that it's important to have your finger on the pulse of what customers want.”

Dr. Louay M. Chamra, dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science, says OU's relationship with the industry strengthens its push to become a "premier research center in this area."

"There have been strong advances in manufacturing, both in southeast Michigan and across the United States," Chamra says, "and industrial robotics has been at the heart of much of that development."

Source: Automation Alley and Oakland University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Michigan First Credit Union aims to add 17 jobs

Michigan First Credit Union is in the process of hiring another 17 people right now, including a new spokester for its Young & Free Michigan program.

The Lathrup Village-based credit union currently employs 247 people across six stand-alone branches, plus three more in Meijer stores. It is replacing a branch on Gratiot Avenue, which is expected to open this fall. Michigan First Credit Union has hired 17 people over the last year. Its new positions range from IT professionals to branch operations. For information on those jobs, click here.

Among the new positions is the credit union’s spokester job for its Young & Free Michigan program. The 3-year-old program employs one college student for a year, making the person the credit union’s spokester. The spokester engages local college students through social media, community events, blog posts and online videos. The idea is to encourage smart financial behavior and help attract more young people to the credit union.

"The year goes by so fast," says Vicky Goldwater, young & free Michigan spokester for Michigan First Credit Union. She worked as a waitress and studied communications at Macomb Community College before taking the position. "The experience was awesome."

Michigan First Credit Union is taking applications for this year's spokester. The position comes with paid gas and insurance. Applicants are expected to make a video when applying. More info can be found here.

"Have fun with the video," Goldwater says. "Be yourself."

Michigan First Credit Union has about 94,300 members in Michigan, which is up more than 4,000 since the beginning of 2013. It has added $30 million in assets in the last year, totaling $674 million.

Source: Vicky Goldwater, young & free Michigan spokester for Michigan First Credit Union
Writer: Jon Zemke

Walsh College scores $100K investment fund for students

Business students at Walsh College in Troy have six figures to play with now that a former member of the school’s faculty has started a new investment fund there.

Leon LaBrecque, a former professor and department chair of finance and economics at Walsh College and managing partner and founder of LJPR, is giving $100,000 to start the Michigan Alpha Project. The student-run investment portfolio will focus on investing in publicly traded companies based in Michigan. LeBrecque says he choose to donate $100,000 at first because “it seemed like enough to make the students interested,” and he is helping raise more money to expand the fund.

"We're trying to shoot for $1 million by the end of the year," LaBrecque says.

The Michigan Alpha Project will be run by two student teams per quarter. One team will make the investments and manage the fund while a second team manages a shadow fund. The results from both teams are compared each quarter. The teams can range in size from five to nine students.

The students will use Walsh College’s newly created finance lab to analyze markets and make investment choices. The 1,400 square-foot space features 24 work stations, 12 Bloomberg terminals, lab projectors, a white board, and an interactive market wall with live feeds for market indexes, global currency movements, current commodity prices, bond prices and NASDAQ, NYSE and Watchlist feeds.

"It gives the students enough to get their fingernails dirty," says John Moore, professor of finance and economics at Walsh College. "It's different when you are investing real money."

Source: John Moore, professor of finance and economics at Walsh College and Leon LaBrecque, managing partner and founder of LJPR
Writer: Jon Zemke

Get Up and Go expands caffeinated food sales

Get Up and Go is on the move in Michigan, carving out space for its caffeinated goodies on store shelves across the Great Lakes State.

The Ann Arbor-based company makes a variety of baked goods infused with natural caffeine. The goodies include muffins, cookies, brownies and granola. Consumers can find Get Up and Go's wares in about a dozen stores in Ann Arbor, Lansing and a few supermarkets.

"We're just getting off the ground," says Chris Bogdan, CEO of Get Up and Go.

The one-year-old company started selling its baked goods in stores six months ago. Bogdan is currently a one-man-show, baking the goods in his home. He is working to move production to a food manufacturer so he can scale the concept into as many as 1,000 stores across Michigan this year.

"I am focusing on Michigan first, building it out and getting into specialty food stores," Bogdan says. "Specialty stores support a lot of Michigan-made products."

Source: Chris Bogdan, CEO of Get Up and Go
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M students make fashion statement with OverTheFly belts

Andrew Jacob and Andre Najmolhoda went to high school in West Bloomfield and college in Ann Arbor together, so it’s not a surprise the two friend are starting their own company together.

The University of Michigan students launched a custom belt company called OverTheFly a year ago and are starting to make a fashion statement or two with it.

"We noticed there is always a trend in shoes, shirts and hats but never belts," says Andrew Jacob, co-founder of OverTheFly. "We want to start trends with belts."

OverTheFly offers plastic belts and buckles of different colors and styles, allowing buyers to customize their own belt with a few clicks of a computer mouse. The company describes its belts as "waterproof, durable, 100% recyclable, animal-friendly, and one size fits all."

"You can pretty much create your own belt," Jacob says. He adds, "We are also the first company we know of that created a belt with Detroit’s skyline on it."

OverTheFly's products can be bought online or at 17 stores in Michigan and Florida. Jacob and Najmolholda plan to continue finding more retail outlets for its belts and hope to scale across the U.S.

Source: Andrew Jacob, co-founder of OverTheFly
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M Credit Union merges with EMU Credit Union

The credit unions at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University are now one institution after consummating a merger earlier this year.

Eastern Michigan University Credit Union officially became a part of University of Michigan Credit Union in January. EMU’s Credit Union will now be known as Eastern Michigan University Financial. U-M Credit Union will keep its branding. Members of both will now have full access to all of the newly combined credit union's branches in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Dearborn.

"It's not a growth strategy," says Jeff Schillag, vice president of marketing at University of Michigan Credit Union. "It's truly a collaboration."

The newly merged credit union will have $545 million in assets and 59,342 members. All of those members will have equal access to affordable financial services, mobile banking, and instant issue debit and credit cards.

Eastern Michigan University Financial will maintain its branch at 761 Jenness St. in Ypsilanti with its current staff. It will continue to employ its namesake university's brand in its name as a point of pride for the EMU community.

"We intend to keep the branding there to better serve that community," Schillag says.

Source: Jeff Schillag, vice president of marketing at University of Michigan Credit Union
Writer: Jon Zemke
617 Higher Education Articles | Page: | Show All
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